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Wonderful words by the people and their dogs who let me into their life

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Victoria really worked wonders with our dog Anderson Pooper. He's just a puppy and very excited all the time. He didn't know what "come" meant and rarely listened. But after just two weeks with Victoria, he came back such a well mannered young man. He does amazing on the leash now and now he knows that not everyone wants to play with him( even though most of the time they do ). Victoria is very knowledgeable about what she does and doesn't mind when you email her constantly with new questions lol. My only regret is not taking Poops to her sooner!

I CANNOT thank Victoria and The The Lead enough! Calvin is my 8 month old English Cocker Spaniel puppy and on top of his normal puppy behaviors and enthusiasm, he had a long list of things that were just too much. He jumped on counters, barked at inappropriate times, grabbed food or dangerous items from the table/desk, grabbed sleeves or other clothing while playing at had a constant high energy level that was hard to keep up with and caused him to pull hard while on leash. Since he has been home he still has the same amazing personality since before his training but he has transformed into a well behaved much calmer dog! With consistency at home he now listens when I talk to him and I am not stressed out while taking him to my family's house with their dogs present. Our family and friends are amazed! Would definitely recommend everyone to take the leap and bring their dogs here. The environment the dogs are in is great and safe (love that he's at a home instead of a facility) and we LOVED seeing his videos and pictures every day! It made the hard two week process MUCH easier for us!


After many years without a dog my husband and I decided that it was time for another pet. We spent almost a year researching and looking for the perfect dog. We had owned several pit bulls many years ago and after consideration decided on another pit. Because we already have 2 cats we knew we wanted a puppy thinking it would be easier on the cats who had never lived with a dog. Finally, we picked up our puppy. We named her Maui. We were in heaven for at least a week. Crate training was a breeze, potty train was going well and we wasted no time starting basic training with her. It wasn’t long before playful nips started drawing blood and she became a terror to be near. Walking her on a leash was impossible. The final straw came when Maui started growling and snapping at me as I tried to take a bully stick from her or move her to her playpen. She had turned into a pushy, bratty, uncontrollable, biting, crazy dog, no fun to be around. She was just over 3 months and maybe 20 pounds! I was really afraid of what would happen as she got bigger.

We did puppy classes at the humane society and then found a local trainer who came to the house several times but Maui needed so much more. Somehow, I found Victoria online and watched some of her videos. I couldn’t get signed up fast enough! I was pretty sure my dog didn’t like me. I was desperate, thinking we had made a mistake, there was something wrong with us or something wrong with our dog. It would be 6 weeks before Maui could take the "one week board and train" puppy training. I was sure Maui needed the month long behavioral modification. She could be scary when she went into crazy mode. Victoria assured me she would assess the situation and if Maui needed to stay longer she would keep her. It was the longest 6 weeks ever, but we were committed to our puppy. We kept up with the training as best we could at home, watched every video Victoria had, and with the help of doggy daycare, where she could burn off some energy, give us a break and have lots of puppy friends, we made it to Orlando just as Maui turned 5 month old.

The very first night we saw several posts on facebook from Victoria with the cutest pitbull puppy, sitting on a place mat, waiting patiently to be told what to do next. We were shocked. As the week progressed the videos showed more and more potential in our little girl. It was so obvious that Victoria loved her work, she was patient, professional, knowledgable and kind. We felt that Victoria went out of her way not only in caring for our dog and teaching her, but working around special circumstances (Maui developed a cough just after getting there). This required even more work for Victoria to separate Maui, sanitize the area for the rest of the dogs and then train Maui separately. The week went by quickly and the daily facebook videos were awesome. We loved seeing her progress everyday and we could see that she was not in any distress even having a some playtime with Chief. Come to find out Maui was a very sweet girl that just need some guidance and manners. was accomplished in one week!. Then it was our turn to learn how to talk to her. The first thing we did was walk around the block, all the way, without incidence. It was awesome.  We were so impressed with the one week puppy board and train that we signed Maui up for the e-collar training. We felt that although Maui was 1,000 times better we wanted the off leash security of the e-collar. Because of her breed we wanted her to be a good ambassador for all pit bulls and because of the freedom of being able to “talk" her from a distance. 

Maui is 11 months old now and about 60 pounds with a fairly intimidating bark. I can't imagine life with her had we not found Victoria. We took Maui to the Deland art show last week and I thought the show organizers were going to start charging us for a booth rental if we kept drawing such a big crowd with Maui and telling everyone about Take the Lead training! Everyone was so impressed with how well behaved she was (along with her natural good looks!) 

Sit, Place and Down have become life savers for us and Maui. It gives all of us time to decompress, relax and collect ourselves. We still work with Maui everyday. It’s easy to see when any of us are getting lazy and then its right back to basics. Place. The connection we have with her now, which was missing before training makes every minute of her training so worth it. She would not really even look at us before we took her to Victoria and now she lovingly gazes into our eyes or she taps my leg with her nose just to check in on walks. I have to say it was the best money we have ever spent. 

Please feel free to give my number as a reference ever needed!

Sincerely,  Teri and Fred Althouse

Unbelievable! In a word, that is the change we got in Charlie from Victoria's time and talent.


I won't get into the list of issues we had with Charlie, but it was long and typical, and we thought, unsolvable. Charlie had become a liability to the point we had considered giving up on her. Our main concern was that her behavior was completely unpredictable, especially where other dogs were concerned - she could be downright vicious.

Victoria did her thing and now we have an entirely different dog. When we dropped Charlie off for her board and train, in trying to gauge what we might expect in the end I asked if it were possible that she could be handled off-leash. A pipe dream, I thought. Victoria said "absolutely". I thought, "yeah, we'll see" and had my doubts. Well, we've been walking her off-leash for the past few days (ensuring there are no other dogs around until we have complete confidence in her discipline), and it has been a thing of beauty, not to mention a dream come true. Using the leash is obviously a safety measure, but almost seems unnecessary.

All of the other issues we had with Charlie have completely disappeared. She is 100% responsive to commands, no longer barks at every little thing and is an absolute joy to be around. She really is the perfect dog.

We cannot endorse Victoria's Take the Lead K9 Training strongly enough. Your dog will be the envy of dog owners everywhere. The response from all our neighbors has been "Wow!", and that's our response to Victoria - Wow!

Victoria far exceeded our expectations of what training for our pups would be. When our boys were dropped off they fought with each other, were bratty and spoiled and just overall not well behaved.

We initially thought "if she can just get Rocky to stop growling and barking at everyone he sees and get Colby to stop barking incessantly then we've accomplished what we need".

dog aggression orlando

Because the boys had been known for picking fights with each other, at home we always worked to keep them separated at all time. We never really expected to be able to have the boys in the same room again, muzzled or otherwise, much less be able to take them on walks together side by side or not feel the stress of constantly monitoring that they hadn't accidentally been let in the same room together. This is exactly what we got though and so much more! The boys go on walks together every single day, sometimes even without their muzzles and they can be close without tension and fear that a fight will break out. Rocky has learned to be calm and trust that we are in control and wont let anyone or anything be somewhere that makes him uncomfortable. Colby has learned that every time the wind blows or someone walks by the house he doesn't need to go nuts and run around the house barking. And both boys have learned that we are the leaders and picking fights with each other wont be tolerated and doesn't serve to accomplish anything. We are able to have people over at the house again because of the guidance that Victoria was able to provide us to make Rocky feel comfortable about the presence of strangers. The stress level in our house has reduced significantly and we are able to truly enjoy our pups now! The pups seem to be so much happier as well, they now get to go on field trips with us and explore places that never would have been an option before. Victoria was able to give us and the pups some piece of mind. She taught the pups how to be calm and rely that "mom and dad have got this" and she helped us learn how to be strong and effective leaders to the boys. I really cant say enough wonderful things about the work that Victoria is able to do with the pups that go to her. We are now sending our last pup Delilah and cant wait to see her transform from an anxiety riddled dog to a calm and happy puppy. I would trust any dog I have with Victoria and I can guarantee the next one we get will be going to see her for training straight away.

Colby and Rocky have been home for almost a month now. When we sent the boys to Victoria, I had a hard time with the idea that I was no longer going to be able to cuddle with my boys every night and wake up to puppy snuggles. I believe my exact words were “no, I’m not giving up cuddling with my babies, they already think I abandoned them” I was so wrong! The boys impress me more and more every day. Just when I think they cant do any better, we challenge them and they respond with great enthusiasm. I truly believe that they are happier now, being calm and letting mom and dad deal with all of the day to day issues, than they ever were before going to training when they were constantly jazzed and feeling like they had to be alert to everything going on. We’ve learned to be strong, and effective leaders to the boys and they’re so much happier for it. Before Victoria, daily walks were not a thing, going to Home Depot was unheard of and because of Rocky’s fear, having people over at the house was a rarity. Now, anywhere we go, if the dogs can go with us, they do (even Rocky- who has been a super star on all of his fieldtrips). It was a big state of mind shift for us, especially me, but I now unequivocally believe that the best way to show your pups how much you love them, isn’t to coddle them, but to be strong and lead them. Take the stress and anxiety off of them and let them really enjoy the benefits of being well behaved pups, like all of those great new smells at the restaurants and home improvement stores they get to go to now. We went from bratty, entitled, fighting dogs, to dogs that get CONSTANT compliments anywhere we go. The boys have been doing so well, we even are able to let them be in “place” in the same room without muzzles, which we didn’t think would be possible for a very LONG time. We can’t wait to continue to find new ways to challenge the boys and watch them grow and impress us even more. Also, I have to admit, I kind of enjoy having a puppy free bed now, its amazing how much better we both sleep! (But don’t tell the boys that )

Victoria gave us Waffles 2.0. The dog we sent to her for training was so reactive to people that we couldn’t leave the house with her. We also couldn’t have people over, including family members that she had previously met on several occasions. Waffles would lunge, growl and bark relentlessly at anyone in proximity to her including fits of insanity in the car towards pedestrians....

We got her at 8 weeks old, wanting a young pup that would grow up with our 2 cats and get along with them.  As the first few months with Waffles passed, she was getting along great with the cats but everything else started to become a literal nightmare.  We had done a 6 week puppy training class at a pet store and then a dozen classes with a trainer at a facility.   Things were getting worse, not better.  One night we had a standoff with Waffles for 2 hours when she decided all of a sudden that she would not go in her crate anymore.  We lost the standoff.  From then on, when we would get her in the crate she would hurt herself by pawing at the crate endlessly and chewing on the metal.  Since she wouldn’t go in the crate that meant she was rarely left alone in the house because when she was – she was destructive and we worried she would get into something and hurt herself.  Yup, that meant we couldn’t take her anywhere and now we couldn’t leave her home alone.   We were sending her to a puppy play daycare 5 days a week so that we could go to work and not have to leave her home alone. At this point, we decided we needed to have a trainer come to our house where the biggest problems were occurring. 

This was an EPIC failure.  The trainer spent 2 hours at our house – 1.5 hours of that spent outside because Waffles was so aggressive and vocal that she couldn’t even talk to us in the house.  The trainer said it would take 6 months to a year for us to see some minimal results.  This was not the solution either.  We were feeling so defeated and desperate for a solution.  We had a family member suggest that we try to find Waffles another home.  We were too committed so this sweet pup and were convinced we just needed to find the right kind of help for her.  Enter Victoria. YAY! 

Keep in mind Waffles never bit anyone and did not have anything “happen” to her as a puppy.  Many people ask us why she used to act the way she did.  We don’t really know – we didn’t know what to do when the reactive behavior started and that probably didn’t help either.  The first step we took in advocating for Waffles was take her to Victoria.  We knew there was a loving friendly pup that was waiting to be discovered in Waffles 2.0.

That’s not to say that when we found Victoria I wasn’t skeptical because other trainers had made the same claims of being able to help. We called 3 references of Victoria’s that she provided. They all had dogs that started out just like Waffles.  Hearing these references tell me the stories of how their dogs had changed after staying with Victoria made me nearly jump for joy. Victoria had helped with these dogs to overcome their insecurities and it worked. In addition to training, in some cases, Victoria also uses prong collars and ecollars when the situation for a dog calls for it. In all of the persistent groundwork and attention that Victoria laid with Waffles the new collars were AMAZING tools.  The foundation that Victoria built with Waffles to help us communicate with her was exactly what we needed. That communication was crucial and us not doing it before was a big part of Waffles pre Victoria. For example, that situation I mentioned about Waffles not going in the crate before.  That would never happen now as Victoria helped Waffles to feel that the crate was a safe place to relax and feel comfortable when something around her is uncomfortable.  We use the ecollar and prong collar daily as part of Waffles ongoing training now that she is home.  The prong collar helps waffles to walk relaxed and calm on the leash.  For the first time ever when she came home we took her for a walk and saw her whole body language change as she was now relaxed on a walk – not on high alert, ready to be defensive and jump into action.  The ecollar is remarkable and has made the biggest difference of all.  When we picked up Waffles Victoria let us feel the ecollar in use.  I compare it almost to like a tap on the shoulder.  To tell Waffles, “hey excuse me, that behavior is not ok.”  Now that Waffles has been ecollar trained, that tap is a lifesaver in communicating with her and reminding her when her behavior is not in line.  We can have people over and put Waffles in a place command for at least an hour with no problem.  She is so relaxed and different.  She now lets family members and repeat visitors pet her whereas before no one besides us was in her trust circle.  Her focus is probably the next biggest change – she is no longer a 24-7 frantic mess.  We always have her in a command so that she doesn’t just run around not knowing what to do.  As a result of this – she can now play Frisbee and actually bring it back without getting distracted!

Victoria’s knowledge and support during her time with Waffles and after she came home has been nothing short of impeccable.  She truly has a gift for what she does and we are so very lucky to have found her.  So now we have Waffles 2.0 - calmer, more relaxed, more focused, and an absolutely obedient dog (95% of the time - she is a 1 year old work in progress pup after all)! 

P.S. An added bonus is that Waffles can board overnight at Victoria’s now when we need her to.  I don’t worry that she is sitting in a crate at the vet or that I don’t know who is taking care of her while we are away.  I know she is in the best hands and gets to see all her old friends, Victoria and her pack!

We took our buddy Trooper to Victoria for three weeks of board and train. Trooper was a very anxious and nervous Australian Shepard mix. He had a rough upbringing before we adopted him, which led to a variety of issues. He was very nervous around other dogs, and even on walks, he was very scared. He had a hard time leaving my wife's side while at home, often attached at the hip.

Victoria was able to do a fantastic job bringing Trooper out of his shell. The variety of training, drills and exercises she did with trooper gave him so much more confidence. The first time we saw him playing with other dogs in her videos blew us away. She equipped both us, and Trooper with tools necessary to give him the best life possible.

She is very much interested in setting us up for success. Even beyond the three weeks, she kept in regular contact to ensure we were successful, and was readily available for any questions or issues we had. When we get our next pup, we look forward to it spending time with her.

I wanted to wait until Lucy had been home for a long time and had proven herself before I wrote this post. It's been just over a month, I think, since she came home from what I call her "sleep-away doggy training camp", and I feel that now is a good time. 

 We adopted Lucy 1 1/2 years ago from a rescue. They were looking for a foster for her because the humane society was going to have to put her down the next day. We rushed out and got her. Immediately we noticed she was aggressive to any new people, and fiercely aggressive toward men. She calmed down for the most part, mostly because she had us trained. However, she still bit me, both of my daughters, my daughter's friend. It was always understandable (taking away a toy, new person running up to hug her, all things that would have triggered her fearfulness), but still unacceptable. I always muzzled her before we took her to get her nails done, and she still tried to attack the groomer. She would ATTACK the glass front door whenever anyone knocked. We really only had 2 options: get her trained or have her put down. She was less than 3 years old, so putting her down would have been horrible. 

We sent her to stay with Victoria knowing it would take longer than an average training. Lucy had serious issues. Just getting her to trust Victoria (a new person who was now going to have real expectations of her) was a huge obstacle. However, Victoria handled it very well. She posted videos on her Facebook page to keep us updated, and we were shocked at the transformation. By the end, Lucy was allowing Victoria to massage her and touch her feet (which is a huge trigger), and when we picked her up, she would actually reply to us when we called her (before this, if we called her she would roll over on her back and if we tried to pick her up she'd bite us). 

Since she's been home, she hasn't bitten once. She has only charged the front door a couple of times, and as soon as we correct her, she stops. She heels on the leash. She sits and stays. She lets me massage her. Like Victoria would say, she makes better choices. She knows who is in charge, and she respects it.

To anyone interested in training your dog,

Let me start by saying you will never find bigger pet lovers than my husband and I.

Seven months ago, my brought home a gorgeous 8-week old Berger Picard puppy we named Dr. Joel Cooper. Not having a lot of training information on this relatively new US dog breed, we did what we have done with our past dogs. When Cooper was 3 months old, we attended 6 weeks of puppy school. We experienced some progress but not enough. So, we signed up for a second and more advanced 6-week obedience school. Here too we saw improvement but still a lot was lacking.  While smart, affectionate, and having a desire to please, Cooper was also strong willed, impulsive and very large.


One of our biggest concerns was Cooper's desire to chase moving objects. After implementing all the suggestions from previous training classes, Cooper was still into chasing cars. He had even been hit once (and thankfully recovered) but that didn’t dampen his desire. He also wanted to chase bikes, joggers, and other dogs.  He would come periodically (when he wanted or when treats were involved), he barked excessively when someone was at the door, frequently jumped on people (affectionately), and would ignore his basic commands when distractions were involved. At 8 months old Cooper was the size of a small pony, had a vicious sounding bark, and presented as a scary dog to strangers.  Using the ‘gentle lead’ harness and food reward method recommended by previous trainers was simply not enough to control him in excitable situations. We knew there was a good possibility that he would eventually be hit by another car or hurt someone accidentally by jumping on them.  Because we could not control his actions, we were afraid we would need to limit his exposure to life situations for his and everyone’s protection.  We did not want to punish Cooper because of our inability to effectively train him to be a good citizen. That simply was not fair to him.

A few weeks later, we saw an amazing transformation in a friend’s large and out-of-control dog. Our friend’s dog had become a total gentleman -- remaining playful and happy yet totally tuned into his owners by responding quickly to what was asked of him.  We wanted that for our Cooper and found their success was a result of working with Victoria and Take the Lead K9 Training.

We brought Cooper for a two-week training period with Take The Lead K9 Training.  When we picked up Cooper after two weeks, we were astounded at his abilities and progress. After 2-weeks Cooper had no interest in chasing cars. Just as important, Cooper was tuned-in and engaged with us in walks and all interactions. We could not be more pleased with the positive changes Victoria was able to instill. We know that we can now comfortably and safely bring Cooper anywhere and everywhere we go.  

Through this process, we learned that a prong and e-collar are simply used for information to direct behavior and are not cruel in any way. If the user is trained properly, these tools ensure safety for your loving pet.  While all dogs may not be as strong willed as Cooper, I will always use these methods in training future dogs.  I now see how happy and responsive a dog can be when they clearly understand what is asked of them.

If you want a happier pet, I recommend Take The Lead K9 Training without reservation.  

You owe it to your pet and deserve it for your family.


Lisa and Jeff Smith

Orlando, FL,  USA & Dubai, UAE

We have a Pitbull-mix named Beau. Given the stigma behind Beau's breed, it was very important for us to make sure he received the proper care, attention, and training so that he could show everyone how Pitbulls can be just as loving, obedient, and trusting as any other breed of dog. I, personally, had very high expectations and demands for his training, and my boyfriend and I were very picky about who we wanted to go to for help with Beau's training. Victoria from Take the Lead K9 Training met every single one of our expectations for Beau. We decided on a two-week board training, and after those two weeks Beau had learned everything he needed to know to be that well-behaved, sociable, and "tunied-in" dog we all wanted him to be. We understand the importance of keeping up with his training, and we thank Victoria for essentially doing most of the work laying down the tracks for Beau's continued success. We have complete confidence in ourselves to use what Victoria has taught us to successfully reinforce his newly learned behavior. I would certainly recommend Take the Lead K9 Training to any dog owner.

Tori is nothing short of amazing! Our dog Kimber just completed a two week board and train with Tori. Before her training she was anxious, nervous, stubborn and quite frankly a little out of control. Kimber had zero impulse control and did whatever popped into her little head. My hope when we sent her was that she would come back "manageable". I never imagined that she would come back a different dog (in a good way). Tori didn't change who Kimber was, she taught her how to make better choices. This wasn't just your average training. She reprogrammed her. She's still our lovable quirky little girl but now she's calm, relaxed and engaged. She has boundaries. Tori changed Kimber's life and ours and we will never be able to thank her enough. If anyone reading this has even the slightest doubt on whether or not to send your dog to Tori....the answer is YES! You won't regret it for even a minute! Thank you Tori!

-Jennifer Myers, St. Petersberg FL

Where can I even begin with describing how incredibly thankful we are to Victoria?!  We loved Messi before his two week board-and-train, but now we feel like we have a true relationship with him!  Messi never had any major problematic behaviors; he has always been incredibly patient with our 2 and 6 year old children!  But we found it difficult to take him places (jumping and pulling leash!), to have people over (jumping and constant movement!), to walk him (hard pulling!), or to enjoy him during “down time” at home (all up in our faces!).  But over the last week since he has been home, we have been able to do all of these things and so many more due to the calm and connected pup we now have thanks to Take the Lead K9 Training!  Last night as I did homework with our son, Messi sat calmly and patiently on his bed, even falling asleep from time to time.  On the weekend, Messi (in “down” that he did not break!) and our son waited patiently as I watched from several yards as I spoke with a friend we ran into while at the park, and he navigated dogs, people, and sounds brilliantly at the local farmer’s market.  I wished for all these things in a dog when I was a child- a furry sibling we could take everywhere and that was truly part of our family.  As a household with two working parents, I knew that I did not have the time, energy, or background to be able to train Messi to be the connected and calm dog we wanted, but I knew that if I could partner with someone else to set the groundwork in an intense training scenario, I could keep up the work- and that’s just what we have been doing.  Keeping up with the training is fun!  We get to play outside, go for walks, go to parks, and make new friends because we know we have the tools help Messi engage with others and his environment appropriately.  Victoria gave us the leadership skills to help Messi, and in doing so, she has brought so much joy to our house.  Messi is now calm enough to sit and cuddle (rather than sticking his face in ours!), he eats regular meals in his crate (rather than grazing and seeming anxious during meal time), and we can give him lots and lots of exercise outside because of his excellent off-leash skills.  I can’t imagine how different our life with Messi would have been without the guidance Victoria has given Messi and us!  We literally have a new relationship with our dog that is everything we had hoped for (and I dreamed of as a chils!).  Seeing our children enjoy him so much more because of his calm and connected behavior- there are not enough words of thanks we can send Victoria’s way!  We recommend Victoria wholeheartedly- it will change your life!

Hey Victoria,

Here is the testimonial…its amazing to go back and remember how chaotic our lives were before we met you!!

Hi! My name is Nicole, I am a dog lover who has 2 rescue pups, Rylie (7) a cattle dog mix, and Oliver (5) a yorkie mix.  When Rylie was a puppy I went through Petsmart obedience classes with her, so in my mind she was pretty well behaved.  Oliver came into our lives a little over 2 years ago abandoned and looking for a home.  My husband and i decided to adopt him…only thinking about how cute, sweet, and cuddly he was at the time.  Over time i taught him sit and down, but work and busyness of life got in the way of my follow through with him and gradually he turned into a cute but definitely bratty and mouthy pup.  He also became increasingly aggressive with strangers and barked incessantly at anything and everything outside.  Eventually things escalated to him biting the UPS man just outside our house. We had to quarantine him for 9 days.  When people came over i put him in his crate but he whined and cried the whole time due to separation anxiety.  It was maddening.  I had no control.  It was pretty clear he was the “king” of the house.
We have neighbors that we are good friends with who also had a badly behaved dog, and we resorted to going out to dinner b/c we couldn’t have each other over safely.  Thats when our neighbors told us about Victoria and Take the Lead k9 Training.  They sent their dog off to “boot camp”  for a few weeks.  I was skeptical to see if the dog would be different afterwards, or even if it could work for Oliver.  I, like most people, excused my little dog’s bad behavior, because he was just that— a little dog with a little brain— and just like every other little Yorkie, Chihuahua, Pomeranian, etc i didn’t think there was any changing that.  So, i started watching the videos posted about my neighbor’s dog out of curiosity and listening to what Victoria had to say.  I realized that our lack of discipline as dog owners was a major part of the problem.  I even realized that Rylie, our “angel” dog, had some pushy behaviors that i hadn’t noticed in the glare of Oliver’s behavior.  Slowly i started to re-train them, starting using place command and getting rid of the “stay” command that i had started with Rylie.  One of the great things about Victoria is that she shares information in her videos so you can implement obedience at home!  Over the course of a month i noticed a big improvement, but i still had no way of breaking through to Oliver with his incessant barking, aggression, and terrible outside leash manners.
Our neighbors got their dog back and we were astonished at the difference.  She was still very uncomfortable with strangers but we were able to go inside their house and feed her and she was able to keep it together with the help of place after we fed her.  I was amazed.  I went straight home and emailed Victoria!  It was a couple months before she could take Oliver, so i buckled down with some tips she gave me and really tried to solidify his obedience at home.  That way he would be a little ahead so she could get right to working her magic with the aggression side of things.  It was a hard 3 weeks without him, but it gave me a chance to really work with Rylie and get her on the same page that he would be when he got back.
We took her to the go home session so we could practice walking them together and past distractions that were triggers for them both (in different ways), but triggers none-the-less.  It was so incredible to see my lizard and squirrel chasing, chaotic, frantic, Yorkie pup turn into a very tuned in, polite, joy to walk.  We practiced all the things he learned with Rylie as an added distraction and even had a perfect stranger come to the door!
The next 3 months after taking him home have been wonderful though not without challenges.  Victoria has truly changed our lives as dog owners and made owning our dogs a pleasure instead of a headache or a worry about who might get bitten next.  We have a ritual with Oliver that all new people that come over have to go through with him, but he accepts them as friends very quickly and is more than comfortable to observe from place where he relaxes and even falls asleep occasionally. :)  Our lives are night and day since Oliver came back from training with Victoria.  She truly wants success and the best for dogs and owners and has been such a great resource and help from the first email i sent up to the present! The knowledge we have gained from her is knowledge we have for life, to continue with our current dogs and all future dogs we will have.  If you are on the fence about whether this training is worth it….my answer is YES, every time!

Hi Victoria,

Where to begin ....... ? That's how much you have changed our lives and the chaos in our home. When we originally talked to you about training, we had some very specific requests. Stop the begging, incessant barking and give us good walking partners. What we didn't realize was how many other bad behaviors would be eliminated as a result of the training.

Begging at the table - gone.
Surfing the counters - gone.
Jumping from the chair to the top of the table - gone.
Barking, jumping and running in circles while we get their food ready - gone.
Rushing the door and barking in a neurotic manner when the door bell rings - gone.
Barking at everything they see outside the window - gone.
Pulling me down the street like a sled dog on walks - gone.
Jumping, pulling and chasing squirrels, rabbits, lizards on walks - gone.
Barking at joggers - gone.

The end result of this training has been that the dogs are now able to be true members of our family and participate in daily walks and go with us to places like Winter Park.

I no longer need to worry that they will chase something into traffic and get hit on the street. I don't need to corral them when a jogger is coming past us.

Recently, we encountered two large dogs that were not on leashes. They approached us and one was growling. The owners were frantically trying to call them back. I stood between my little Italian Greyhounds and the large dogs and asked my IGs to sit. They responded, were still and quiet. This situation could have went from bad to worse without the training. If they had responded with barking, jumping and pulling, the end result could have been awful.

Tango is no longer neurotic. We have seen the biggest change in him. In the past, he was always "on the move". He was always on "full alert". He was a handful. He was a nervous wreck when thunderstorms rolled through. He would follow us around the house, whining, jumping at us and would scratch at our legs to be picked up. For Tango, learning how to "place" and relax has been a godsend. He is now a happy, relaxed dog. We didn't expect the training to change his world that much and are overjoyed with the result. Tango has been on anxiety medicine for several years and we are going to start the process of taking him off.

As you know, we spend a lot of time with my daughter and her family. You trained her Italian Greyhound and Standard Poodle with mine. Chaos use to ensue when all the dogs were together. We would try to get them all to lay down when they were together but a couple of them would always leave their spot and wander around the house, bark out the windows or try to steal food in the kitchen. It was a constant parade of commands being given and complete disregard for what they had been asked to do. NO MORE. We are able to bring them all in the house and they will remain calm and quiet. They actually receive a lot more attention now because if you aren't chasing them around the house, you can actually sit and pet them. They are a joy to have together now.

Given the age of my dogs, 11 and 8, I didn't know how successful the training would be but I now know "old dogs" can learn new tricks. I would encourage anyone with a dog to seek training. I thought I was sending my dogs for training but somewhere along the line, I have been trained too. The way I look at my dogs and what they are capable of has changed. I thought we were spoiling and pampering them and I now know a lot of what we did in that department was contributing to the unruly behaviors.

Victoria, you have made our family (humans and dogs) much happier. We are now peacefully coexisting and for that we can't thank you enough.

Maybe we were crazy to take on a new puppy when we already had a toddler and new baby on the way, but we are so happy we did! Our 6 month old great dane has gone through both puppy and e-collar board and train with Victoria and we couldn't be happier with the results. Victoria is a truly gifted and patient trainer who gets to know you, your family, your needs, and your dog's challenges. She takes the time to teach you how to work with your dog to maintain and build on the foundation she has laid. She is professional and always available to answer our many questions. We love having our Winnie at home and plan to board her again in the future. We can't recommend Victoria and Take the Lead enough!

With Victoria advocating for her, Savannah is able to improve her social skills and make better choices!

Our family adopted Savannah from the local SPCA. She had zero training, and couldn’t even “sit” on command.  We found out during her first week with us that she was reactive to other dogs and fear aggressive towards strangers.

 We took her to two different trainers, who tried to help but her situation didn’t improve: we couldn’t’ have guests in our house without her barking and growling at them constantly nor could we walk her down the street without her pulling on the leash so hard that we would be sore after every walk.

 When we enrolled her in Victoria’s 3 week board and train program, we decided it was our last ditch effort, if this didn’t work, we would be resigned to never have guests in the house and for our kids to  not be able to walk the dog at all.

During her board and train Savannah learned how to trust and be more relaxed around strangers!

 Victoria taught Savannah how to remain calm and focused when seeing other dogs during her walks, so it’s our kids now who to the dog walking in the morning; Victoria also socialized Savannah and she now  loves to play with other dogs and is no longer fear aggressive.  By using the stranger protocol that Victoria taught us, we were also able to have 8 different people over within the first 2 weeks after Savannah returned home from the board and train. And Savannah even let them pet her! We have recently been able to host sleep overs for our two daughters, which we NEVER thought was possible!  Savannah has also made friends with a dog in the neighborhood and they often have play dates!

 In conclusion, Victoria’s training has given us peace of mind, as she has taught our Savannah to make the right decisions for herself.  Victoria’s E-collar training was crucial for Savannah’s rehabilitation, and has given us the tool to correct her and properly communicate with her so we can help her continue to make the right decisions. This to us is priceless.

 When we enrolled her in Victoria’s 3 week board and train program, we decided it was our last ditch effort, if this didn’t work, we would be resigned to never have guests in the house and for our kids to  not be able to walk the dog at all.

 Victoria taught Savannah how to remain calm and focused when seeing other dogs during her walks, so it’s our kids now who to the dog walking in the morning; Victoria also socialized Savannah and she now  loves to play with other dogs and is no longer fear aggressive.  By using the stranger protocol that Victoria taught us, we were also able to have 8 different people over within the first 2 weeks after Savannah returned home from the board and train. And Savannah even let them pet her! We have recently been able to host sleep overs for our two daughters, which we NEVER thought was possible!  Savannah has also made friends with a dog in the neighborhood and they often have play dates!

 In conclusion, Victoria’s training has given us peace of mind, as she has taught our Savannah to make the right decisions for herself.  Victoria’s E-collar training was crucial for Savannah’s rehabilitation, and has given us the tool to correct her and properly communicate with her so we can help her continue to make the right decisions. This to us is priceless.

Koda the out of control Golden Retriever learned how to make better choices and be calm!

My dog, Koda, at the age of 1 was out of control.  He was cute, everyone loved him, but he was a pain to handle when friends would visit due to his extreme excitement.  It was easier to crate him when friends arrived but I knew he wasn’t learning the correct way to behave.  I took training classes but whatever training I was doing was not enough.

When I first heard of ECollar training I was reluctant.  It sounded like a cruel way to train a dog into submission and I thought it would stifle him from usual dog behavior.  I started researching online and got educated on the why and how of this type of training.  I then found Victoria’s website.  I read every page and realized Victoria was not someone who wanted to take my “baby” and train him with cruel methods.  I could see she was a dog lover just like me.  She was educated, worked with animals on a daily basis and had a dedication to helping dogs and their owners get to a better place.  I didn’t want a nuisance dog.  I wanted a well behaved dog that others would come to admire and a better relationship with him, after all, that’s why I got him in the first place.  I ultimately looked at eCollar training as an investment for a long and happy life with him.

On day 1, Victoria posted a video of Koda on Facebook.  My jaw dropped!  I couldn’t believe what I was seeing and even joked that she must have drugged him prior to recording the video.  He was listening to Victoria’s commands and was calm as can be.  I was hooked at watching Facebook for each and every video she posted of him.  I was so excited to see him after the 2 weeks but also a little nervous because it was time for “people training” and I was unsure I could keep up what he had learned.  I brought the whole family to make sure we all heard and learned what we all needed to know.  During training I wanted to know what the eCollar felt like when the remote is pushed.  I learned that it didn’t hurt like I thought it would. I learned that when Koda doesn’t listen or is focused on something else, the stimulating feeling he feeling is a method to break his concentration and get him focused on me.  I can tell him no, click the remote, and then state my command again.  He gets it every time.         

My dog is a totally different dog!  He now goes to outdoor restaurants and sporting events with us.  The best part is that we rarely ever use the remote because he actually listens!  Strangers ask me about his behavior and I find myself often referring Victoria’s training.  I now have the relationship I had hoped for and a much happier dog!  

Our experience with Take the Lead and Victoria has been nothing but positive.  She far exceeded our expectations.  Victoria is very professional, and great with our dog.  Before we had sessions with
Victoria, our dog Marty was very hyper.  He is a lab puppy and always wanted to get into and chew up things.  Victoria not only trained Marty but us as well.  Therefore, we can continue to work with Marty and have him behave as we would expect. We used to have to always keep an eye on him because he was getting into things he shouldn't, and we couldn't have friends over without him going crazy, which resorted us to having to crate him a lot.  Now all we have to do is put him in "place" or a "down" and he will stay there
until we release him.  Walks with Marty were always a chore but after Victoria did some leash training with us, it is now pleasant to take Marty on a walk.  We often over hear other owners walking their dogs make the comment "why cant you be more like that dog". Marty is a different dog and a pleasant dog thanks to Victoria.  We cannot say enough about her and would highly recommend her


Meet Emmett, their second Lab pup after his board and train: 

"Hey Victoria!  Things are going GREAT!  Really amazing actually.  It’s a world of a difference.  Both pups are on their best behavior and I think just happier, b/c they have a little more freedom if they do what I ask.  For example, we’ve been taking Emmett out front just to potty real quick and back in without a leash, just e-collar, that way, he can just run out do his business and run back in.  And last night for the first time, I let both dogs out back not in fenced area, to run around lake and conservation area!  They LOVED it.  Marty hasn’t had this opportunity since we got Emmett, since we didn’t want to tease Emmett, watching his brother run around freely.  They played chase, and got to stretch those legs of theirs more so then they could in our little fenced backyard. Thank you!" 

I cannot thank Victoria enough for help in training my dog.  Shortly before I called Victoria one my dogs had become aggressive to my husband and then to myself. After the second incident, I knew we needed help. My veterinarian recommended Victoria.  She is a wonderful person and easy to work with.  She knows how to train dogs.  Before we met her, walking my dog was difficult and stressful. He pulled on the leash very hard and when he saw another dog he would lunge towards it.  After the second training session walking him became easy and enjoyable.  It has been several months and things are going well.  Our dog loves Victoria.  He responded well to her training, especially the e-collar, and all of our lives are much better.

I had a couple of issues with my American Bulldog, Rylie.  The first, I spoiled her a bit and she became very attached and protective of me (she owned me).  The second, she was attacked by another dog leaving her defensive and very difficult to walk.  I was at the point that I dreaded walking her and taking her out in public.  I met Victoria at the vet during Rylie's annual visit.  We discussed some of Rylie's issues and she gave me her card.  Victoria came over to assess Rylie and myself and believed that there was hope for the both of us.  She taught me how to take control of Rylie and to show Rylie that I am in charge and that she is safe with me.  Victoria gave me some valuable advice and training tools to use such a as walking techniques and putting her "place" in different areas of my house.  Rylie and I are both doing so much better thanks to Victoria.  I would recommend her in a heart beat and am so grateful she came into our lives.

Thank you,

My 8 month old goldendoodle pup just completed Victoria's ecollar training class and I could not be happier. I saw big improvements in his recall after the first session. I worked a lot with him in-between training sessions but by the end of his third session he was heeling completely off leash in distracting places, even the dog park. If you want your dog to be reliable off leash I would definitely recommend signing up for ecollar training with Victoria.

Victoria was referred to us by our veterinarian because our 2 year old black lab was having behavioral problems.  He would get extremely excited when people came to the door, when we came home, and did not have any self control.  I had a difficult time walking him.  He would walk far in front of me and pull very hard on the leash. He would lunge at other dogs, also. Victoria showed us how to properly walk him and correct him.  Now it is a joy to walk our dog.  She also showed us how to put him into place and a few other basic techniques such as sit, come, and down.  Our dog responded very well to her training and he likes Victoria.  When would get near the training facility our dog would get very excited.  He is a different dog now. Now he is calm. When we have guests over he is pleasant to have around.  Victoria is an excellent trainer. She works well with the owners and the dogs. I highly recommend her.

Melanie Iriye

Winter Springs

penny conan.jpg

Just had to share... We come home for lunch each day to let the wonder twins out and run for a bit after being in their crates all morning. We prepare our lunch and theirs and lately as we sit down to eat the pups put themselves in place!! We don't say anything and they don't leave without their release command. It is just amazing that these two are able to chill themselves out just by habit!!!! Thank you for helping us have such a great vibe with these amazing dogs!!!

Insecure and nervous Leo learned how to trust his owners to help him stay comfortable and confident!

Insecure and nervous Leo learned how to trust his owners to help him stay comfortable and confident!

As first time dog-owners, we put a lot of thought into bringing a dog into our home with our two active boys and busy schedules.  Our kids imagined lots of play time and equally sweet cuddle time, and hoped for a dog that would love all of their friends too.

Leo, an 18-month old labradoodle, joined our family in October of 2013. He had one previous owner and seemed to be the perfect, laid-back dog that we wanted.  In the first few weeks that we had Leo, it was apparent that he was figuring out his place in our family and we were determining our role in his life.  In a matter of a few months, we saw Leo transform from shy-dog into territorial dog.  He would ballistically bark upon hearing any doorbell ring, even those on TV, and barrel downstairs to jump and check out the visitors.  Upon opening the door, Leo would “greet” the guest by jumping incessantly, to which our demands to stop would not be heard.  On various occasions, while having company over, Leo “snapped” at guests out of fear—new people in our home, and in his space, was not something he was fond of.   Additionally, walks outside with Leo turned from leisurely strolls to being pulled down the street with only one thing on Leo’s mind—get back home, fast.  We realized the sweet, shy Leo we first experienced was exhibiting some behaviors that we did not know how to address.  And thank goodness for Victoria!

We first spent 6 weeks in “group training class” with Victoria and learned great commands for Leo—sit, place and down.  However, even in this setting, Leo was fearful of the other puppy-owner families and seemed very tense and uncooperative.  We later booked a 2-week board and train with Victoria to work out some of Leo’s insecurities and fears.  This 2-week intensive resulted in an amazing outcome; not only was Leo learning, but we were too!  Victoria does an amazing job of training not just the dog, but the owners and family too!

With Victoria’s help, we learned how to read Leo’s cues—when his insecurities are high with new guests in the home, we now know to give him space in his “place.” Place command has been such a great thing for Leo.  It allows him to focus and not wander around the house, potentially getting into things.  And, it is a place where he is not threatened by guests; he trusts us now as we have shown our support for his space.  Place has become part of his routine and we often find Leo plopping in place by himself because he enjoys it so much.  And, with Victoria’s help, we have been successful in training Leo how to properly walk on leash, even sitting when we stop to chat with a neighbor or staying down when we bring in the trashcans.  He looks to us for direction, and thanks to Victoria, we now know how to respond appropriately.

We owe all of Leo’s success to Victoria.  Without her guidance, we would not have created such a great routine and relationship with Leo.  The boundaries we have created for him keep him safe, and thereby keep order and structure in our home.  Our kids are definitely getting all the play time and cuddle time they hoped for, and Leo is now feeling safe in his home and being kind to our guests.  We are forever grateful for Victoria and recommend her to everyone!


I just wanted to share a great story from this weekend. A friend and her daughter came over Sat night. Callie started running around the house barking, like she normally does. We haven't tried putting her in her place when this happens because I thought she'd never listen. Well, I put her in her place to see what would happen. She immediately stopped barking and calmed down! I couldn't believe it! She stayed there for about half an hour (I had to bring her back a few times). and then I let her wander around the house for a bit to see how she would do. She laid in the kitchen and just watched the girls play (we were in the living room). It was seriously amazing how well she did. I had Olivia give both dogs treats when the family left because they both did so well. Thank you for all your help, it's definitely working!

Just when I thought there was no hope for our dog, Victoria brought a new found peace to our house. After 4 private sessions with her, our very excitable Zoey is calmer using the techniques and training methods that Victoria has taught us. We can now have people over without Zoey jumping and barking to get some attention. We look forward to continuing to work on the methods Victoria taught us, and are so happy to have found her ... only wish it was 3 years ago! I would highly recommend her and her talents to anyone looking to take the lead with their pup!

Maggie the 4 month old boxer/lab mix rocking the place command! :)

Maggie the 4 month old boxer/lab mix rocking the place command! :)

Maggie Update: It has been a fantastic day! We took her on a LONG walk this morning and she did great, responding quickly to correction even as we passed other dogs. (She was SO much better than the you do kids?) I picked up a couple of bathmats to place around the house and we practice "place" on each of them. Later, even off leash, she found whatever rug was nearest me and laid down while I worked. She started chasing and nipping in the backyard when the kids ran so I snagged her leash and had the boys run intentionally past her while I corrected. She's a little frustrated with me but her overall demeaner has calmed down considerably. At this very moment, she's in the gated area up front, closed in, and quietly nibbling a pigs ear. I am feeling so positive about the work we're doing with her! Thanks for getting us started!

Good morning Victoria,

It’s been going very well actually :) Last night when we did our walk (without the remote collar) she was tested by a little dog off leash. I made her sit down while the owner and little dog ran circles around us. I was then trying to grab the other dog so it wouldn’t get run over. Kristi stayed put and only growled once when the little guy came up behind her to check her out but she still didn’t get excited! Score :)

This morning I ran with her and two large dogs that scare her were a bit more challenging she barked a couple times but then sat down and did pretty good. They were saying hi to me and she was fine after the initial bark – I asked her to sit down and she did :)

In the house has been lovely – she’s just more relaxed.  A friend brought me a very nice wicker type kennel and I left her there today while I’m working. I’ll make sure I leave on time and take her for a long walk when I get home.

It truly was a pleasure meeting and working with you. You are a very patient and kind person and what you are doing is helping both the owner and pets have a better life together.

Jake and Savannah calm and in down/stays at the vet's office!  A big improvement from Jake's previous behavior of anxiously climbing into their laps!

Jake and Savannah calm and in down/stays at the vet's office!  A big improvement from Jake's previous behavior of anxiously climbing into their laps!

We have two dogs, Jake and Savannah, who are special loves in our lives. Jake is a 70 pound golden retriever rescue and Savannah is a 45 pound golden retriever/chow mix rescue.  Both dogs have been with us for over 7 years so there unwanted behaviors were deeply seeded.  Savannah’s issues were more complicated by traumatizing issues that would not seem to resolve.  It should be said that both owners are Licensed Mental Health Counselors and are skilled in behavioral training that worked for many former rescues but not our Savannah.  As Victoria describes, “ Savannah is a complicated little girl”.

We needed help because they believed they were in charge. Jake would jump on you as you attempting to get him ready for his walk. He was so excited and he didn’t realize his strength.

Savannah had an unusual style of walking. She would resist leaving the house and would do circles as she walked. At the half way point to returning home, she would make a mad dash to pull you all the way home. It was not pleasant for Savannah or for us to take a walk.

Victoria came to our rescue. She taught them to stay in place. This command is wonderful for allowing you to cook in the kitchen without two dogs at your feet. They remain in place in the family room and watch us as we cook. They remain in place for eating too. They stay in place and wait for us to put the food down rather than jumping up and knocking us over.

Both dogs walk by our sides and watch for us to give them the directions. Savannah no longer does her circles and the mad dash back home. It is a delight to walk with them daily as it is good exercise for all of us.

Jake used to have serious anxiety at the vet’s office. We took him for his annual visit last week and he remained in a down position until it was time to go to the examination room. We were amazed it was our Jake. The staff was very impressed too.

Jake and Savannah stayed at Victoria for about 17 days and we have been working with them since they returned in late August. The experience has dramatically enriched our daily lives. We have been amazed at their listening skills since the training; so also are the views of our neighbors and family.

We are still working on one behavior with Savannah. She has major anxiety at the front door when someone comes to visit. This behavior is a work in progress. Victoria taught her to be calm at her house but now we need to transfer that learning to her real home. Victoria has been with us every step of the way to see what we can do to help Savannah.

We are impressed with Victoria’s skills and her commitment to helping the dogs and to teaching us how to be in charge. It makes life pleasant for them and for us.

Letter of Recommendation for Victoria Smith

When we introduced a puppy to our home, our adult dog had trouble adjusting.  She got really possessive and grumpy and the puppy was confused when his efforts to play were met with growls.  We hoped they'd quickly work it out but instead, it got worse.

The uneasiness between the dogs caused a lot of stress for all of us.  Our formerly peaceful home seemed a distant memory.  We'd adopted shelter dogs for many years and had taken a few basic dog-walking and other training classes.  The puppy and the adult dog had both benefited from training classes.  But to fix the problems between the two dogs, we needed a very personalized plan and someone who could help us implement it.

At first, it was hard for me to accept that we could not fix the problems between the two dogs on our own.  I was embarrassed that we had to ask for this kind of help.  But my responsibility to give both dogs safe and happy lives got me past that.

On Victoria's first visit, she carefully listened to the entire problem.  She asked thought-provoking questions about our hopes and goals.  And, while still at her first visit, she taught us to create space each dog could feel was their own.  By the end of that first session, the dogs were much more relaxed, each in their own place, and the humans were hopeful.  In subsequent sessions Victoria helped us rehearse previously-learned skills, and she introduced new challenges which helped us to succeed.

Peacefully exploring the world together :)

Peacefully exploring the world together :)

From the beginning, we saw results and now, the dogs really like each other.  (And, incidentally, the puppy is the best-trained dog we've ever had.  He's amazing!  We're still working with him on calm leash walking, and we really enjoy our training time together.)  I am very grateful for Victoria's efforts and skill.

M.S. in Central Florida



Praise for Take the Lead K-9 Training

Writing this letter was very difficult.  Victoria Smith, owner of Take the Lead K-9 Training, has helped us tremendously and has become integral to our lives.  I hope I can adequately convey how much she means to us, and what a good friend she has become.

We started working with Victoria when our adult dog refused to accept our newly-adopted puppy.  The puppy just wanted to play, but the older dog felt threatened and was constantly agitated.

We loved both dogs, but the tension between them was very stressful for all of us.  Just as this drama was unfolding, Victoria was available to work with us.  Before our first hour of training was over, Victoria had shown us how to establish both physical and behavioral boundaries, and both dogs were working together for the first time.  Also, on that first visit, she taught us to separate the dogs before their stress levels got too high.  That gave us all a much-needed breathing space.

Victoria's degree in human psychology gives her a unique edge.  She has excellent listening, interpretive, and communication skills for both dogs and people.  She not only heard what we were saying but she understood the unspoken fear—that we would not be able to make this situation work.  I'm glad she was as committed as we were to restoring a calm, happy household--with both dogs.

Now, the dogs love each other.  They are friends in every sense of the word.  Best of all, calm has been been restored.  We couldn't be any happier.

DS, Central Florida


Just wanted to give all of you an update, and share how delighted we are with the long-term outcome of our previous training with Victoria.

As you can read in our original posts, after bringing a puppy into our home with an adult dog already there, we had some really rough days.  I remember how we dreaded the prospect of this adoption failing, despite our best efforts and strong desire to succeed.  Everything that had worked with our other dogs just wouldn't work with these two.  It was shocking and upsetting.

Looking back, we are so glad we turned to Victoria's expertise. Had we given up instead of doing the training, we're sure we would not have the happy family we have now.  Doing the work was sometimes hard, but the result was well worth the effort!

Our older dog still steals and hides the puppy's toys, of course.  (The puppy is 3.5 years old now, and twice her size!)  The older dog is very intense, which we adore about her, and she still thinks everything belongs to her.  We haven't done any training on that subject.  (Sounds like we should, doesn't it?)  But the puppy doesn't care about her thieving, controlling ways.  He's utterly captivated by everything she does.  She amuses him, loves him, accepts him, and gives him a lot to think about.  They have a very complex relationship, apart from us, and now they are both thriving within it.  We have completely relaxed about them, and they are relaxed, too.

We never wanted training to turn them into different dogs.  We wanted training to give us the tools to enable the dynamics of their very different personalities to work together.  And it did exactly that.  FYI, just while writing this we've used our "sit," "down," "wait," "place," "enough," and "leave it" commands.  These dogs aren't programmed robots.  They are living, breathing, engaged, enthusiastic beings--and we have the tools now to help them stay happy, manageable, and safe.

The work we did with Victoria early on continues to pay off.  We have created unbreakable bonds with our dogs, but we also know how (and when) to give ourselves some breathing space.  We'd never had to do that with previous dogs, so this was something new we (the humans) learned.  It's really helped.

With the stress between them turned down so low, both dogs can listen to us now, which is so very important.  Also, in this calmer environment, we became better able to anticipate their needs and understand their non-verbal cues.

We can't thank you enough, Victoria!

Dear Victoria,

I just wanted you to know how much I appreciated your help with one of my two dogs!

 I have had Schnoodles for many years and have never had a pup with the temperament of my Schatzie!  I think he was born with his nervous system on "red alert"!  He flinches easily at the gentlest of touches, and is overall a very sensitive dog.  On the other hand he feels HE owns all the streets and sidewalks where I exercise them.  And he is not really happy when ANY other dog would come innocently walking toward us with his owner.  He would pull and jump, and throw himself at the offender that dared to enter HIS territory.  I  would tug and pull him away, and the poor unsuspecting owner would just look at me as I apologized for this aggressive behavior. Even my other Schnoodle would look at me as if to say he was embarrased by these gymnastic displays!  But as Schatzie aged, this behavior took its toll on his fragile back.

It knew I needed help with this now "senior citizen " dog.....but how would I even begin to find someone that would be willing to help?

Schatzie with Victoria's dogs on a pack walk!

Schatzie with Victoria's dogs on a pack walk!

As fate would have it, I learned about your services when I had the pup at the Vet for his painful back!  You said that you would be willing to try to help me out!  I was SO happy.  And what a miracle worker you turned out to be Victoria!  You had a quiet, calm, yet skilled way of helping Schatzie get control of himself!  You showed me ways to hold the leash to help him feel secure and not threatened.  You realy were instrumental in helping our walks turn into pleasant adventures, instead of something to be dreaded.  Best of all, Schatzie hasn't had any major back issues from his doggie gymnastics!

So I thank you from the bottom of my heart.  Our walks are anticipated and not dreaded!   This experience has put to rest the saying that "you can't teach an old do new tricks!"  For surely that is what you  did for my 14 yr old pup!

                                                                                                                                                     Most Sincerely,  MEC

Colby in "place command" with LoveyLoaves Rescue for special needs dogs

Colby in "place command" with LoveyLoaves Rescue for special needs dogs

Victoria with Take The Lead K9 Training is a joy to work with!  She took the time to explain normal dog behavior, listen to our needs and answer any questions that we had.  She uses safe techniques and respects each dog while modifying unwanted behavior thus allowing handlers to build strong personal relationships with each dog.  We highly recommend Take the Lead K9 Training for all your training needs!

~Cheri Wells, LoveyLoaves Rescue

Skipper stayed for a 2 week board and train--he was passed from foster homes and unadoptable because of his obnoxious behaviors, including marking in the house.  After his time with Take the Lead, he was adopted into a new family!

Skipper stayed for a 2 week board and train--he was passed from foster homes and unadoptable because of his obnoxious behaviors, including marking in the house.  After his time with Take the Lead, he was adopted into a new family!


In July 2013, we adopted a rescue dog we named Sam. Sam is a Shepard/lab blend and a gentle and very timid dog. From the first, both the people at Pet Rescue by Judy and at the Lake Jesup Animal Clinic strongly advised us to get Sam trained. Dr Griffith at Lake Jesup said it would be the difference between 12 happy years or 12 miserable years for us and the dog.

After interviewing one trainer with whom we did not “click” we decided to go with Victoria at Take the Lead. Over 4 lessons encompassing a total of 5 hours, she taught us not only simple commands but also the hows and whys of dealing with a rescue dog. This, more than anything else, has been a life saver!

Sam is very shy around 2 legged animals and, initially, would run and hide even at our house. We quickly learned to block all entrances to the back of the couch, relocated the easy chair, and bought him a dog bed that he recognized as his own. From the first day, he decided that our house in general was a “safe “ place, and even now, we can have every door open and he will not go out on his own. This is a huge help when we are carrying in groceries.

With training, Sam will walk on a leash, or run on a leash. We learned to have him sit whenever a strange situation comes up, and that immediately calms him, as it lets him know that we will not let anything harm him. He has gotten very close to our youngest son (19) and considers Greg’s bed to be an extension of his own. Greg is the lucky recipient of kisses from Sam as well, although he is getting more and more comfortable with each of us. He no longer runs away when we enter a room and even lets us pet and love on him. Sam loves to be loved – he’s just afraid to show love.

I would recommend Victoria Smith and Take the Lead training to anyone who loves their dog. I do believe that the human needs to be comfortable with the trainer as well as the dog. We were very pleased with the job that Victoria has done/is doing with us, as she still very much keeps in touch with us.